We advise you to box rest your horse or pony overnight following surgery. After that gentle exercise is absolutely essential. Turn your horse or pony out daily in a small paddock, this reduces swelling around the scrotum and chance of infection. Provided there are no complications full work can be started 2 weeks after surgery.
2. Pain Relief
Your horse should have received a dose of bute the day of the castration. In a routine case this should be enough. If your horse is showing any signs of the complications described below, please speak to your vet to discuss whether a longer course of bute is needed.
In a routine castration we give a shot of penicillin just before surgery. This is enough to cover a castration with no complications. If your horse or pony is showing any of the complications described below, your vet will decide whether a longer course of antibiotics is appropriate.
Ideally we advise to bathe the area with warm salty water/ dilute hibiscrub (if safe to do so). This should be done gently and using a CLEAN cloth or sponge twice daily– this will help keep the area clean and reduce the chance of infection. If required (depending on the time of year) it may be helpful to apply fly repellent around the inner groin and belly (but avoiding the incision site) to try and limit the chance of irritation by flies.
A small amount of blood following castration is completely normal. Slow dripping of blood is not uncommon (you should be able to count the drips) and nothing to worry about. This is usually small blood vessels from the skin. This dripping should resolve within 48 hours of surgery.
If blood is dripping but hasn’t stopped within this time then we advise you call your vet and discuss the situation. Your vet may want to come out and check your horse at this point. If the blood is spurting from the surgical site (as seen in the accompanying picture) this is an EMERGENCY and you must phone your vet immediately!
We advise you not to remove straw with blood on so your vet can assess how much blood has been lost.
Excessive swelling is the most common complication seen with castrations in horses and ponies. Mild swelling, ie plum to mango size, around the sheath and scrotum is completely normal. If the scrotum is looking more like the size of a pineapple you should contact your vet. If the swelling is causing lameness, or making the horse have difficulties urinating then you also need to contact your vet.
This is usually seen 3-5 days following surgery and your horse may show signs like being off his food or walking awkwardly. A course of antibiotics usually sorts this out.
This is a rare, life-threatening complication where an infection tracks into the abdomen. Signs include a raised temperature, depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhoea and even colic. If you suspect your horse is ill please contact your vet immediately.
5. Omental Prolapse
This is when a ‘net curtain’ like tissue can protrude through the incision site. A small amount can carefully be removed by your vet. Large amounts may need further surgery. If you suspect ANYTHING is protruding through the hole then please contact your vet.
6. Intestinal Prolapse
Rarely, intestines can protrude through the incision site. This is an EMERGENCY. Although rare, this complication can be fatal and it is essential you contact your vet if you see any tubular structures coming through the incision. Intestines look a bit like big sausages!
7. Persistent Stallion Like Behaviour
1 in 20 geldings will still exhibit some stallion like behavior post surgery. This is more common the older the horse/pony is when it is gelded. Unfortunately this is normal.
8. Cyst Formation
This is rare. This is when two edges of the incised sac heal together resulting in a small sac of abdominal fluid. It is non-painful and would only be removed for cosmetic reasons.
9. Penile Damage
Inadvertent damage to the penis, penile tunic or urethra can occur during castrations. This is more likely if the horse or pony has very small testicles. This can lead to difficulty urinating, and your horse being unable to retract his penis. Please contact your vet if you notice anything abnormal.